You might be surprised to learn that amidst all the angst concerning elimination of programs, cutbacks, or slowed growth at the various federal agencies, the FCC is one of the very few agencies slated to grow.
The FY-2006 budget proposes that the FCC's overall budget authority would increase to $393 million from $367 million. Of this, $299 million would be supplied by "regulatory fees"--an increase of $20 million. The budget calls for adding 26 additional employees, bring the total to 1999. (Looks like the sales strategy employed by my Dad's five and ten and all other retailers--get that erector set for $19.99, not a penny more!)
One could pat the FCC on the back for doing so well in the budget wars. Or one could say that it will be very important for the new FCC Chairman to devise a five year plan (perhaps including alternative scenarios, depending on what Congress does or does not do over the next year or so) for slimming down the agency. Surely, there is an emerging consensus that a reduced amount of regulatory activity is appropriate in light of the marketplace realities, even if Congress does not change the law, which it should. It should not suffice any longer to say that a steady-state agency with a growing budget is needed to "get through the transition to competition".
Any new Chairman should have a piece of paper in his pocket with a plan, even if done in pencil, that contains staged reductions in budget authority and employee count over the next five years. Absent having that real piece of paper, any talk about real reform is cheap.